The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs


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The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

  1. 1. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience Acknowledgements Prologue: How Steve Jobs Creates and Delivers “Insanely Great” Presentations…and How You Can, too! ACT I: Create the Story Scene 1: Plan in Analog Scene 2: Answer the One Question That Matters Most Scene 3: Develop a Messianic Sense of Purpose Scene 4: Create Twitter-Like Headlines Scene 5: Draw a Road Map Scene 6: Introduce the Antagonist Scene 7: Reveal the Conquering Hero Intermission I: Obey the 10-minute Rule ACT II: Deliver the Experience Scene 8: Channel Their Inner Zen Scene 9: Dress up Your Numbers Scene 10: Use “Amazingly Zippy” Words Scene 11: Share the Stage Scene 12: Stage your Presentation with Props Scene 13: Reveal a “Holy Shit” Moment Intermission II: Schiller Learns from the Best
  2. 2. ACT III: Refine and Rehearse Scene 14: Master Stage Presence Scene 15: Make it look effortless Scene 16: Wear the Appropriate Costume Scene17: Toss the Script Scene 18: Have Fun Encore: One More Thing Notes
  3. 3. 43 Act I Scene 4. Create Twitter-Like Headlines “Today Apple is reinventing the phone.” --Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007 “Welcome to Macworld 2008. There is something clearly in the air today.”1 With that introduction Steve Jobs set the theme for what would ultimately be the big announcement of his keynote presentation--the introduction of an ultra-thin notebook computer. How thin? Look at your index finger. It’s about that thin. No portable computer could compare to this 3-pound, .16-inch thin “dreambook” as some observers called it. Steve Jobs knew that everyone would be searching for just the right words to describe it; so he did it for them: “MacBook Air. The world’s thinnest notebook.” The MacBook Air is Apple’s ultra-thin notebook computer. The best way to describe it is, well, the world’s thinnest notebook. Search for “world’s thinnest notebook” on Google and the search engine will return about thirty thousand links, most of which were written after the announcement. Jobs takes the guesswork out of a new product by creating a one-line description or headline which best describes the product. The headlines work so well that the media will often run with it word for word. You see, reporters (and your audience) are looking for a category to place your product and a way of describing your product in one sentence. Take the work out of it and write the headline yourself.
  4. 4. 44 140 Characters Or Less Jobs creates headlines that are specific, memorable and, best of all, can fit in a Twitter post. Twitter is a fast-growing social networking site that could best be described as your life between email and blogs. Millions of users “tweet” about the daily happenings in their life and can choose to follow others. Twitter is changing the nature of business communication in a fundamental way--it forces people to write concisely. The maximum post--or tweet--is 140 characters. Characters include letters, spaces, and punctuation. For example, Jobs’ description of the MacBook Air takes thirty characters, including the period: The world’s thinnest notebook. Jobs has a one-line description for nearly every product and it is carefully created in the planning stage well before the presentation, press releases and marketing material are finished. Most importantly, the headline is consistent. On January 15, 2008, the day of the MacBook Air announcement, the headline was repeated in every channel of communication: presentations, web site, interviews, advertisements, billboards and posters. In Table 4., you will see some other famous “twitter-like” headlines Jobs has delivered. [Insert Table 4. here: “Examples of Jobs’ Twitter-like Headlines for MacBook Air”] Headline Source “What is MacBook Air? In a sentence, Steve Jobs keynote it’s the world’s thinnest notebook.”2 “The world’s thinnest notebook.”3 Words on Jobs’ slide
  5. 5. 45 “This is the MacBook Air. It’s the Steve Jobs promoting the new notebook in a thinnest notebook in the world.”4 CNBC interview immediately after his keynote presentation “We decided to build the world’s A second reference to MacBook Air in the thinnest notebook.”5 same CNBC interview “MacBook Air. The world’s thinnest Tagline that accompanied the full screen notebook.” photograph of the new product on Apple’s home page “Apple Introduces MacBook Air—The Apple press release World’s Thinnest Notebook.”6 “We’ve built the world’s thinnest Steve Jobs’ quote in the Apple press release notebook.”7 “This is the amazing Core 2 Duo chip. Macworld 2008 It’s a screamer.”8 Most presenters cannot describe their company, product or service in one sentence. And, understandably, it becomes nearly impossible to create consistent messaging without a prepared headline developed early in the planning stage. The rest of the presentation should be built around it. Setting the Stage for the Marketing Blitz The minute Jobs delivers a headline on stage, the Apple publicity and marketing teams kick in to full fear. Posters are dropped down inside the Macworld Expo, billboards go
  6. 6. 46 up, the front page of the Apple Web site reveals the product and headline, and ads reflect the headline in newspapers, magazines, television and radio. Whether it’s “1,000 songs in your pocket” or “The world’s thinnest notebook,” the headline is repeated consistently in all of Apple’s marketing channels. Today Apple Reinvents the Phone On January 9, 2007, PC World ran an article that announced Apple would “Reinvent the Phone” with a new device that combined three products: a mobile phone, an iPod, and an Internet communicator. That product, of course, was the iPhone. The iPhone did, indeed, revolutionize the industry, and was recognized by Time Magazine as the invention of the year (Just two years after its release, by the end of 2008, the iPhone had grabbed 13 percent of the SmartPhone market). The editors at PC World did not create the headline themselves. Apple provided it in its press release and Steve Jobs reinforced it in his keynote presentation at Macworld. Apple’s headline was specific, memorable and consistent: Apple Reinvents the Phone. During the keynote presentation in which Jobs unveiled the iPhone, he used the term “reinvent the phone” five times. After walking the audience through the phone’s features, he hammered it home once again: “I think when you have a chance to get your hand on it, you’ll agree, we have reinvented the phone.”9 Jobs does not wait for the media to create a headline. He writes it himself and repeats it several times in his presentation. Jobs delivers the headline before explaining the details of the product. He then describes the product, typically with a demo, and
  7. 7. 47 repeats the headline immediately upon ending the explanation. For example, here is how Jobs introduced GarageBand for the first time: “Today we’re announcing something so cool. A fifth app that will be part of the iLife family. It’s name is GarageBand. What is GarageBand? GarageBand is a major new pro music tool. But it’s for everyone.”10 Jobs’ slide mirrored the headline. When he announced the headline for GarageBand, the slide on the screen read: “GarageBand. A major new pro music tool.” Jobs followed the headline with a longer, one sentence description of the product: “What it does is turn your Mac into a pro-quality musical instrument and complete recording studio,” Jobs told the audience. This is typical Jobs method of introducing a product. He reveals the headline, expands on it, and hammers it home again and again. The Excitement Of the Internet; The Simplicity Of Macintosh The original iMac (the “i” stood for Internet), made getting on the Web easier than ever. The customer only had to go through two steps to connect to the Internet (“there’s no step three,” actor Jeff Goldblum declared in one popular ad). The introduction captured the imagination of the computer industry in 1998 and was one of the most influential computer announcements of the decade. According to, the iMac redeemed Steve Jobs, who had returned to Apple in 1997, and it saved Apple itself at a time the media had pronounced the company all but dead. Jobs had to create excitement about a product that threw some common assumptions out the window--the iMac shipped with no floppy drive, a bold move at the time and a decision met with considerable skepticism.
  8. 8. 48 “iMac combines the excitement of the Internet with the simplicity of Macintosh,”11 Jobs said as he introduced the computer. The slide on the screen behind Jobs read simply: “iMac. The excitement of the Internet. The simplicity of Macintosh.” Jobs then explained who the computer was created to attract: “We are targeting this for the number one use consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the Internet simply and fast.” The headlines Steve Jobs creates work effectively because they are written from the perspective of the user. They answer the question, “why should I care?” (See Scene 2, Answer the One Question that Matters Most). Why should you care about the iMac? Because it lets you experience “the excitement of the Internet with the simplicity of Macintosh.” 1,000 Songs In Your Pocket Apple is responsible for one of the greatest product headlines of all time. According to author, Leander Kahney, Jobs himself settled on the description for the original iPod. On October 23, 2001, Jobs could have said, “today we’re introducing a new, ultra portable MP3 player with a 6.5-ounce design and a 5GB hard drive, complete with Apple’s legendary ease of use.” Of course, Jobs did not say it quite that way. Instead he simply said, “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket.”12 No one could describe it better in more concise language. One thousand songs that could fit in your pocket. What else is there to say? One sentence tells the story and also answers the question, “why should I care?” Many reporters covering the event used the description as the headline to their articles. Matthew Fordahl’s headline in the Associated Press on the day of the
  9. 9. 49 announcement read, Apple’s new iPod puts “1,000 songs in your pocket.”13 This headline was memorable because it met three criteria: It is concise (27 characters), specific (1,000 songs) and offers a personal benefit (you can carry the songs in your pocket). Following are some other Apple examples of headlines that meet all three criteria. Although some of these are slightly longer than ten words, they can fit in a Twitter-post. • “The new iTunes store. All songs are DRM-free.” (Changes to iTunes music store, January, 2009) • “The industry’s greenest notebooks.” (New MacBook family of computers introduced in October, 2000) • “The world’s most popular music player made even better.” (Introduction of the fourth generation iPod nano, September 2008) • “iPhone 3G. Twice as fast at half the price.” (Introduction of iPhone 3G, July 2008) • “It gives Mac users more reasons to love their Mac and PC users more reasons to switch.” (Introduction of iLife ’08 announced July, 2007) • “Apple reinvents the phone.” (Introduction of iPhone, January, 2007) • “The speed and screen of a professional desktop system in the world’s best notebook design.” (Introduction of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, April 2006) • “The fastest browser on the Mac and many will feel it’s the best browser ever created.” (Unveiling Safari, January, 2003) {START SIDEBAR}
  10. 10. 50 Headlines that Changed the World When the “Google guys,” Sergey Brin and Larry Page, walked into Sequoia Capitol to seek funding for their new search engine technology, they described their company in one sentence: “Google provides access to the world’s information in one click.” That’s sixty- three characters or ten words. An early investor in Google told me that with those ten words, the investors immediately understood the implications of Google’s technology Since that day, entrepreneurs who walk into Sequoia Capital have been asked for their “one liner”; a headline that describes the product in one sentence. As one investor told me, “If you cannot describe what you do in ten words or less, I’m not investing, I’m not buying, I’m not interested. Period.” Following are some more examples of ten-word headlines that have changed the world: • “Cisco changes the way we live, work, play and learn.”--Cisco CEO John Chambers, who repeats this line in interviews and presentations. • “Starbucks creates a third place between work and home.”--Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz describing his idea to early investors. “We see a PC on every desk, in every home.” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was having cold feet shortly after joining Microsoft. Founder Bill Gates pulled him aside and said, “Steve, you see yourself as a bean counter for a start-up. I see a PC on every desk in every home.” Ballmer stayed and, with a personal net worth of $15 billion, he is glad he did. {END SIDEBAR}
  11. 11. 51 Keynote Beats PowerPoint in the Battle of the Headlines Microsoft’s PowerPoint has one big advantage over Apple’s Keynote presentation software--it’s everywhere. Microsoft commands 90 percent of the computing market and, among the 10 percent of computer users on a Mac, many of them still use PowerPoint software designed for Macs. While the number of presentations conducted on either PowerPoint or Keynote are not publicly available, it’s safe to say that the number of Keynote presentations given daily are miniscule in comparison to PowerPoint. Although most presentation designers familiar with both formats prefer to work in the more elegant Keynote system, those same designers will tell you that the majority of their client work is done in PowerPoint. As I mentioned in the prologue, this book is software-agnostic because all of the techniques apply equally to PowerPoint or Keynote. Having said all this, Keynote is still the application that Steve Jobs prefers and the Twitter-like headline he created to introduce the software was certainly an attention grabber. “This is another brand new application that we are announcing here today and it is called Keynote,”14 Jobs said at Macworld 2003. Keynote is a presentation app for when your presentation really counts (slide reads: When your presentation really counts). And Keynote was built for me (slide reads: Built for me). I needed an application to build the kind of slideshow that I wanted to show you at these Macworld keynotes. Very graphics intensive. We built this for me. Now I want to share it with you. We hired a low-paid beta tester to beta test this app for an entire year and here he is (audience laughs as
  12. 12. 52 screen shows photo of Jobs). Rather than a bunch of slides about slides, let me just show you” (walks to stage right to demo the new software). Again, we see a remarkable consistency in all of Apple’s marketing material surrounding the new product launch. The Apple press release for Keynote described it as “The application to use when your presentation really counts.”15 This headline can easily fit in a Twitter post and, without revealing the details, tells a story in one sentence. If a customer wanted more details, he could read the press release, watch Jobs’ demonstration or view the online demo on Apple’s Web site. But the headline itself offered plenty of information. We learned that it was a new application specifically for presentations and made for those times when presentations can make or break your career. And, as an added bonus, it was built for Jobs. For many people who give frequent presentations, that headline was enough. Journalists learn to write headlines on the first day of J-school. Headlines are what persuade you to read particular stories in newspapers, magazines or blogs. Headlines matter. As individuals become their own copywriters for blogs, presentations, twitter posts and marketing material, learning to write catchy, descriptive headlines becomes even more important to professional success. Director’s Notes • Create your headline; a one sentence vision statement for your company, product, or service. The most effective headlines are concise (140 characters or less), specific and offer a personal benefit.
  13. 13. 53 • Consistently repeat the headline in your conversations and marketing material: presentations, slides, brochures, collateral, press releases, Web site. • Remember, your headline is a statement that offers your audience a vision of a better future. It’s not about you. It’s about them.